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\"We still have the same old freedoms in using
paper books. But if e-books replace printed books, that
exception will do little good. With “electronic ink,” which
makes it possible to download new text onto an
apparently printed piece of paper, even newspapers
could become ephemeral. Imagine: no more used
book stores; no more lending a book to your friend; no
more borrowing one from the public library—no more
“leaks” that might give someone a chance to read
without paying. (And judging from the ads for Microsoft
Reader, no more anonymous purchasing of books
either.) This is the world publishers have in mind for us.
\"Why is there so little public debate about these
momentous changes? Most citizens have not yet had
occasion to come to grips with the political issues
raised by this futuristic technology. Besides, the public
has been taught that copyright exists to “protect” the
copyright holders, with the implication that the public’s
interests do not count.
But when the public at large begins to use e-books,
and discovers the regime that the publishers have
prepared for them, they will begin to resist. Humanity
will not accept this yoke forever.
The publishers would have us believe that suppressive
copyright is the only way to keep art alive, but we do not
need a War on Copying to encourage a diversity of
published works; as the Grateful Dead showed, private
copying among fans is not necessarily a problem for
artists. By legalizing the copying of e-books among
friends, we can turn copyright back into the industrial
regulation it once was.
For some kinds of writing, we should go even further.
For scholarly papers and monographs, everyone
should be encouraged to republish them verbatim
online; this helps protect the scholarly record while
making it more accessible. For textbooks and most
reference works, publication of modified versions
should be allowed as well, since that encourages